You probably know of them, too, if you frequent used-book stores or sales, or if you grew up in the mid 20th century.
I'm not really a collector. My eyes typically gloss over them when I'm scanning books on store shelves or at sales. But I picked these two up recently because they're in nice condition and they were sitting in a "Free Books" bin outside of a 2nd & Charles in the Harrisburg area. I won't say no to free vintage children's books!
When I comes to collecting, I tend to focus on fairy tales, folklore, old school books, vintage science-fiction and fantasy, and, most recently, Scholastic paperbacks from the 1960s and 1970s. (There will be some upcoming posts on that last topic.)
But I figured that there must be some people on the vast expanses of the Internet who collect and research these colorful Junior Deluxe Editions from Nelson Doubleday, the same way that I collect and research Ruth Manning-Sanders volumes.
And I was right.
So here are some excerpts and links from the blogosphere on this bibliophile topic:
- Matt Hinrichs, who has been posting on Scrubbles.net since 2000 (!!!), wrote a February 2011 post about the Junior Deluxe Editions that most other bloggers tend to reference when discussing the series. So we'll start with this excerpt from his post: "For years I’ve seen these colorful ’50s hardbacks known as Junior Deluxe Editions in antique and thrift stores, but I’ve never given them much thought before coming across the beautiful Flickr group devoted to them. Though the books are not particularly rare or collectible, the covers have a charming, folk-meets-modern sensibility — and they look dynamite sitting on a shelf. From what I’ve gathered, the Junior Deluxe Editions were a mail-order based program from Doubleday in which customers signed on to receive new volumes on a monthly basis. ... There were about 90 titles in all, issued from the mid ’40s up to 1962 or thereabouts."
- Excerpts from a 2011 post on My Two Cents, by Brad Woodard: "[W]hen we stumbled upon this small collection of Junior Deluxe Editions children’s books, we were beyond elated. They were sitting on top of an extremely old, and ornate buffet when the storekeeper approached us and began trying to sell us the piece of furniture. We just laughed and told him we were more interested in the old and worn children’s books. He looked kind of surprised and basically gave them to us for only $3 a piece! ... I am just happy because we now have started a collection of beautifully illustrated, classic story book for our future kids! And most likely I will read them all before the kids come. Hopefully you admire and enjoy these books as we do!"
- Excerpts from a 2013 post on Just Nicky: "Junior Deluxe Editions were sold by mail order as, I suspect, were the other books that my parents collected for the family. A lot of the family library found its way into the house via Reader’s Digest in the days when bookshops were rare and the internet was not even a space-age fantasy. ... I love these books and they were magical to me as a child. For me, the best thing about them is that each one is different, the design echoing the subject matter of the contents. Each has its own colour scheme, which extends to the end papers. The pages are rough cut in solid paper which discolours beautifully with age. They are also beautifully illustrated. ... These days, thanks to ebay, I have 24 of them. I buy them cheaply, so they are not in great condition, and Emmylou has chewed a few, which are now in worse condition, but they hold pride of place on the top shelf of our hallway bookshelves."
- Finally, Scott Santoro, commenting on a 2009 post by Rachael at Rad Library, added this insight: "These were sold through their book club in the 50s and 60s. Every month you'd have the option of skipping one so long, as I believe, [as] you bought a certain number per year. Each volume came with a bookmark advertising the next book in the series."
Bookmarks! Does anyone still have any of these advertising bookmarks?
There's also a sprawling Pinterest page for these volumes, if you want to gaze at them some more.